Fans of American football remember well the rise and fall of Adam “Pacman” Jones, but not many expected to see him bounce back. Zak Keefer delivers my favorite kind of redemption feature in this profile of Jones, who’s now mentoring the sons of his late friend and teammate Chris Henry. The story starts with Jones’ tears; it might end with yours.
“Y’all need to uproot and move up here with us,” he urged Loleini Tonga, the boys’ mother. “We’ll help you out.”
So that’s what they did. Pacman Jones, once the NFL’s cautionary tale for reckless behavior, made Chris Henry’s family part of his own. They moved in with him in Cincinnati, where he drives the boys to school and picks them up after practice, where he trains them in the offseason, where he pushes Slim’s two sons the same way he once pushed their father, passing on the lessons learned from the opportunity they both almost threw away.
“I’ll tell you this,” Jones says, getting a bit heated. “I’ll be damned if these kids make the same mistakes I did.”